Archive for February, 2008

h1

Welcome to Buffalo, Big Bear!

February 28, 2008

Q: What kind of bear is best?

A: Big Bear!

(Apologies to The Office. Another correct answer would have been black bear.)

What a way for Bernier to start his Sabres career. He had two goals and an assist, and was one linesman away from getting a Gordie Howe hat trick. He had his fist cocked and was ready to whomp on the Nashville player at the end of the game until the linesman got in the way.

I saw his postgame interview on the [Product Placed] Shootout, and I think this kid is going to fit in well in Buffalo. He loves that the fans count up all the goals with the 1, 2, 3…we want 4 chant. Andrew Peters also had a lot to say about “Bernie.” I think we’ll be sticking with the Big Bear nickname here at SOTC, although the “Weekend at Bernie’s” schtick could be too good to pass up in the future.

Random fact about Bernier: he was drafted in the same year as Vanek and ahead of the Devils Parise.

- What a great physical game played by both teams. Peters and Mair both fought (though Mair kind of got his ass kicked), and Goose wanted to go after that snot nosed punk Scott Nichol, but was thwarted by the ref. The ref should’ve just let him go at it. I did like seeing the replay from last season of Marty whomping away on Nichol after he sucker punched Spacek. Still funny almost two years later.

I also loved the scrap at the end of the game where Tim Connolly came flying into the fray to stick up for Derek Roy. Tim Connolly of all people! Someone should also tell Roy that we read lips, since he was letting f-bombs drop left and right at the end of that one.

- I like that the fans didn’t boo JP Dumont. His leaving had nothing to do with slag faced whorishness, and I’m glad the fans realize that.

- I’m glad he’s not hurt, but the clip of Miller falling over in slow motion after taking a puck to the mask is hysterical. After repeated viewings, you almost wanted to yell “Tiiiiiiimmmberrrr” as you knew he was going down. His nose looked a little puffy during the postgame interview, but nothing too atrocious. I did find it amusing that he had no idea that the puck went into the net after he went down. Back in the locker room, he had to see the replay to know what happened.

Another unique statistic from last night is that all four goalies were scored upon in the second period. How many times does that happen?

I saw this article on a message board regarding Miller’s contract situation and had to laugh at this quote from Crunchy:

“The earliest you can do it is July, and I like to celebrate my birthday in July and just have fun, so I don’t think it’s going to happen then,”

Oh, boy. The guy is entitled to an off-season and a chance to wind down, but this is going over like a lead fart on the message boards. They seem to think that Miller is going to jump ship at the end of his deal. I don’t think that’s going to happen, since the fans will burn this town down if it does. But wouldn’t a bright, shiny new contract worth a lot of money be a great birthday gift for Crunchy?

h1

Crunchy Goodness

February 27, 2008

- Perry’s Ice Cream in Buffalo has a tradition of making ice cream flavors that are a nod to local sports teams and events. This year is no exception. According to Business First, Perry’s is going to debut a new flavor called “Breakaway Berrier,” inspired by some of Ryan Miller’s favorite things. It will be a dark chocolate ice cream with swirls of raspberry and fudge chunks. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Steadfast Foundation.

While I do love Perry’s Piece of Cake and Birthday Cake flavors, I’m a little nervous how this flavor is going to turn out. I was really disappointed in their Sabres flavor last year. I’m also really amused by the name, since Breakaway Berrier sounds like some sort of contraceptive device.

And this may have to change my impression of Mr. Vanilla Crunchy. He likes chocolate! And berries! Together!

- The news last night had footage of Bernier arriving at the BNIA. I’m impressed that fans were already going up to him and asking for pictures. This woman had him pose with her little girl, who was in a stroller. He’s looking all adorable, and this poor girl is near tears and hiding her face behind her hands. He did take it really well, however. After hearing a bit of his interview, I’m this close to adding him to my list of people that I would listen to read the phone book, since the way he says “Pominville” is completely adorable to my Buffalo accented ears. (My “read the phone book list” also contains Elliot Sadler and the cast of The West Wing, in case you were wondering.)

- The Buffalo News has some great comments from the team regarding the Soupy departure. There’s also some comments about the upcoming contract renewals. We all know Miller’s the most important potential UFA coming up. He’s the present and future of the franchise. But there’s also Goose, Paille and C-Mac hitting RFA this year. The following comment came from Goose after practice yesterday:

“I’m not focused on my situation at all,” Gaustad said. “My focus is totally on [tonight’s] game. It’s sad to see guys go but you have to move on. Life is all about changes and so is hockey. We just have to stick together as a team.

Amen. I’m sure Goose is aware his contract is up, but he’s not letting it affect him. I also like that he’s pushing for the team to stick together as a group. Only the 23 guys – and Lindy – in that room can play the game and right the ship that is the Sabres season.

- If Soupy left, and Jochen’s broken temporarily, then Adam Mair is the default captain. Who gets to wear the A’s in the short term? Or will Lindy just say f-it, and not do anything until March? I vote for Assistant Captain Goose, but then again, I don’t get a vote.

- And to the reader who found SOTC by searching for “Toni Honk Games,” please let me know if you found what you were looking for. I hust have this weird image of Toni and Goose playing Scrabble, with Goose honking indignantly that Toni’s using Finnish words to help him win.

h1

Shark Soup

February 26, 2008

After many long years, a SARS scare and god only knows how many fourth wall issues, Brian Campbell’s career as a Sabre has come to an end.

I don’t wish any ill will on you Soupy. I do wish you luck in San Jose. You’re at least reunited with Greer and Brown, two guys that are fantastic hockey players and even better people. I’m still a little pissed that you invoked Zednik’s name as one of your reasons for wanting a bigger deal. You may be looking out for #1, but it comes across as cocky and arrogant.

Now onto Bernier. I admit to being a little scared when Cork from OC called him a FaFu (that’s PG forum speak for Fat Fuck). But after looking at the stats, he’s roughly the same weight as Goose and height as Kotalik. Not bad at all. And he’s got the awesome nickname of Big Bear. Please put him on a line with Goose. I want to see a Goose and a Bear play hockey together.

Hopefully, all this drama will be put behind both the team and the fans, and we all can concentrate on the playoff push.

Updated with a SHUT UP BUCKY!

I realize a blog is a commentary, but stop throwing the damn team under the bus! Its getting old!

h1

Trade Deadline Bloggy Fun

February 26, 2008

The New York Times hockey blog Slap Shot recently posted the following questionaire, and asked independent bloggers from each team to fill out the questionnaire and those answers would be published in the Times blog. The wonderful Katebits of The Willful Caboose provided a Buffalo fan perspective, but like Pookie and Schookie of Interchangeable Parts, I wanted to play too.

a) Will your team make the playoffs, and if so, how far will they get?

I live in Buffalo. I’m conditioned to accept doom and gloom at every turn. If the Sabres make the playoffs, they’ll squeak in by the hairs on Miller’s chinny-chin-chin.

b) What team would you most like to see fail this year, and why?

The Rangers or the Flyers. Just because of the slag faced whore factor.

c) What is your fondest memory of your team or a player on your team?

There’s a few:

- Max’s swan dive at Center Ice after scoring the game winner in Game 5 against the Rangers last year, followed by the shots of 10,000 screaming people in the plaza.

- Pominville’s short-handed goal against the Sens in 2005. He ran around Alfie and faked out Emery something fierce. That team was good, scary good.

- Chris Drury getting his first career hat trick against the Rangers last season. The game happened the night after the October surprise storm, so for many of the 18,690 people in that building, the game represented a chance to be in a place with heat and electricity for the first time in over 48 hours.

- The brawl game against Ottawa. Whether it was Marty getting in the fight (Hey Lindy, I’m brawling!), Staffy sticking up for Drury against Neil, or Lindy and Brian Murray going at it, it was a night to remember.

d) What player would you most like to see checked right through the Zamboni doors?

Chris Neil. Only if Goose can do it. Can we make this happen? Please? Pretty please! I’ll be a good little recycler and recycle all of my cans and bottles (even the gross ones like BBQ sauce and ketchup) if we can make this happen.

e) Shootouts — yea or nay?

After last night, definite nay. If a game remains tied at the end of overtime, let it remain tied. This isn’t Junior Pairs ’82. I’m not going to feel jipped if there’s not a winner at the end of the game. Hockey managed to exist quite nicely before the shootout.

———

This morning’s Buffalo News reported that Miller really snapped regarding Soupy’s contract situation. And unlike yesterday’s reported cracking, this is not an attempt at humor.

“It’s just been way too much of a circus around Brian,” he said. “It’s over [today] and we move on. There’s so many things flying around this time of year you just can’t buy into any of it.

“. . . If you believe everything that’s been said by the media, honestly what do you guys really know? No offense, but there are only a handful of people — and they’re not standing in this locker room — that know what’s going on. So really it’s speculation and it’s something you can’t focus on.”

He does have a point, but he shouldn’t be mad at the media for talking about it. Soupy’s the one that decided to take his negotiations public.

And go John Vogl for throwing Ecklund of Hockeybuzz under the bus!

h1

I Hate Shootouts. And Goalies. And Slag Faced Whores

February 25, 2008

That should about cover it all, right?

I also hate teams that blow three goal leads. Three goals. That takes talent. And lately, our team has talent. Just not the good kind.

I’m in a mood right now that the entire team (well, except for Staffy. And Yo-Yo. And Goose) should be traded for some catfish, a bag of pucks and a Zamboni battery. I don’t know why this team manages to fail so spectacularly so often. You could tell that as soon as they got that three goal lead, they sat back on their heels. Then, once it was tied, they started playing for overtime and the guaranteed point.

They lost to a team that was on a ten-game losing streak. And, the insult to the injury, was Danny Briere scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout. But the game should never have gotten to the shootout because they had a three goal lead. Its very disheartening that these guys are doing this repeatedly.

Let me also discuss Crunchy for a moment. Last year, he was rock solid in shootouts. This year, a three-year old could probably beat him. Does he need some new elastic in the leopard print jock? Maybe a new spangly bedazzled lining for it? (I heard Roy-Z’s a whiz with the bedazzler. Maybe they could have craft time in the locker room.) Something, anything. Crunchy’s killing me lately.

However, Crunchy did provide me with a little bit of amusement during warm-ups. He kind of kicked a puck around and hid it under his skate while standing at the bench. Then he stick-handled around with it for awhile. He’s not a puck handler by any means, but he was having fun with it. During the game, I really wanted to bungee cord him to the posts, he was worrying me a little bit with all his wandering outside of the crease. If bungee cords weren’t available, I would’ve settled for one of those harnesses you see people putting around their young children that allow them to walk but under parental control. Just stay in the darn crease.

Anyways, I did take a little joy (just a little) in the Sens loss to the Leafs.

Is there some irony in Andrew Peters doing a PSA for domestic violence? Petey does not give good PSA. Goose gives good PSA. Pommerdoodle gives good PSA. Petey, not so much.

And I have a migraine from sitting in a idling car in a parking ramp for 20 minutes because people don’t know how to get out of downtown Buffalo.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Rangers Are Crunchy Killers

February 24, 2008

- I thought it was interesting that Lindy threw Crunchy and Vanek under the bus with Kotalik regarding the Rangers game-winning goal.

“The first part of the play is going down ice and [Vanek] not shooting the puck, which led to the turnover in offensive zone when we could have a great scoring chance,” Ruff said. “The second part was our goaltender could have froze the puck [when Brandon Dubinsky dumped it on net to enter the zone]. We didn’t have to throw it away against that line. And the third part was Al’s turnover.

Sure, it might’ve been a misguided attempt to make Kotalik feel better, since up until that point, he was having a great night. But on the replay of the goal, you can really see the entire play break down. As we say at work, when our double checks fail, they fail spectacularly. This goal was a multiple spectacular failure.

- Which leads into the key problem for both teams during last night’s game: turnovers. Both teams were incredibly lazy with the puck, looking to make the flashy pass instead of making the solid, dependable pass (or, more radically, shooting the puck). I almost felt like checking both teams for color blindness, it was getting that out of control.

- Props to Kaleta for finally dropping the gloves and fighting someone this season. He did reasonably well against Avery. And if Kaleta grows up into an Avery-esque player, I’ll be glad he’s on our team and not on another.

- What was with Roby calling Rob Ray “Robby” all night? Is it the latest round of the Ray/Roby battle? However, I do like Roby in the booth with RJ. He brings a different perspective and great hockey knowledge to the analyst position. Not to mention, he doesn’t mix up Pommerdoodle and Goose on a regular basis. I also think its pretty funny that the cameraman in the little ice level box with Ray wears a helmet, while Ray’s coconut goes unprotected.

- I’m not even going to mention Bucky’s bj of Drury, because it’s a total been there, read that column. However, Bucky did do a really nice write up about Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey. Lou’s done a pretty good job keeping his team afloat and responding to the changes in the new NHL (despite trying to kill hockey by running the trap). And, unlike other teams, Lou has no player hitting UFA status this year. So he can just sit back and watch the craziness ensue in July.

- I’m a little worried about Monday’s game with Philly. They’re currently working on a 10-game losing streak. They’ll be more keyed up than usual, and Buffalo / Philly games are usually pretty intense to begin with. Philly’s also reeling from the losses of Lupul, Hatcher, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. They’re a desperate team, and so are the Sabres. Look here tomorrow night for a live and in person report once I get home from the game.

- Speaking of Gagne, I was saddened to read that one of the reasons he’s out for the season is that his first concussion earlier this year never fully healed. He took the ice despite having symptoms. Where does the fault lie in that situation: Gagne (rushing to get back) or the Philly medical staff (clearing him to play)?

h1

As The Contracts Turn

February 22, 2008

- TSN’s reporting that Soupy’s agent has rejected the Sabres latest offer of $5.5-$5.75 million a season because the length of the deal is too short. When did a three year deal become a short deal? That would secure him until he’s 32, and still leave him room to get another big UFA deal when this one is up.

Then again, if he had agreed to the deal, the Sabres would have had roughly $16 million tied up in three players (Vanek, Roy and Soupy) in 2010-11. We know Miller’s a UFA next year and is going to warrant a significant increase over the $3.5 he’ll make next year. That’s more money locked up that couldn’t be used to sign other players. I know the salary cap is going up, but its not going to go up that much to allow teams to continue to sign players to these outrageous deals.

Still a 300% raise is nothing to sneeze at. Just saying.

- I did have to laugh at the fact that Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher is in some hot water with the rest of the GMs. He had a deal worked out that would have sent Kaberle to the Flyers. The deal was completed, except for one little fact. No one forgot to ask Kaberle if he would wave his no trade clause! When asked Kaberle basically laughed in Fletcher’s face, so the deal was off.

I do think that Toronto is caught between a rock and a hard place with having 9 players have no trade clauses. They really can’t work out any deals, knowing that a player could poo-poo it at any time. I know that Fletcher is working out deals done under the old regime, but its got to be tough for him to right the ship with all those no trade clauses sitting out there. Contrast that with Anaheim, who only has one player with an NTC: Giggy. The only reason Giggy has the clause is so that his son can receive medical care from the same doctors he’s had since birth. What GM wouldn’t give a guy an NTC for that reason?

- Speaking of laughing, Danny Briere was booed at the Flyers game last night every time he touched the puck. Did we mention it was a home game? Oh Danny. Just think of it as warm-up for Monday’s game in Buffalo.

- This photo was taken at last night’s Bruins / Panthers game.

All those that said that Buffalo fans are classless in away arenas can just go pound rock salt.

-Finally, all this contract and trade business is enough to drive one crazy. I need to go to a happy place.

There, that’s better.

h1

Speechless

February 21, 2008

- I admit to tuning out of the Sabres game a wee bit early last night. I really thought their goose was cooked after going down 2-0. After a few minutes of Idol, I flipped back to the game and saw that it was 2-1. Then back to Idol. Then back to the game (I have remote control ADD, why do you ask?), where it was 3-1. Continuing to think the goose was cooked, imagine my surprise when after another series of channel flips I saw that the team narrowed it to 3-2. Then tied it up at 3-3. You bet I did not change that channel after it was tied.

I did like the fire I saw coming from the team once they realized that they had a shot to win the game. However, I’d rather see that fire spread out across the entire game and not in the last five minutes.

- Hooray for Vanek getting his second career hat trick. I’m happy that he seems to have put whatever demons behind him and is finally playing like the player we all know he is.

- I really, really like the Vanek / Connolly / Roy line. They were complete beasts on the ice last night. Lindy seems to have found something there. I also would bet that Timmy and Lindy are having a battle over whether or not Timmy plays tonight against Toronto. Lindy said before yesterday’s game that Timmy wouldn’t play, but after the chemistry he had with Roy-Z and Vanek, I wouldn’t be so sure.

- Is it wrong that I laughed for a good while at the PSA for the Sabres Food Drive with Sabretooth showing up with a 50 pound bag of Nine Lives to donate? Rob Ray’s “Tooth! People food!” really put me over the edge.

- I’m optimistic that Darcy and Soupy’s agent are still talking, but I just want both sides to come to an agreement already. Sign him or trade him, just do something so we can all stop talking about it.

- Who did Mike Ryan piss off that he sat last night and Andrew Peters played? I really thought that Ryan was playing well the past couple of games.

- If Harry Neale mentioned one more time that the Sabres had only scored two goals in their last two games, I was going to throw something at the TV set.

- Non-hockey related: did anyone else notice that Victorya had a case of permanent bitchface during the Project Runway reunion show?

h1

Media Mix and Match

February 20, 2008

- I love that the Buffalo News is finally giving Pratt and Kalinin some love. They’ve been a rock steady defensive pairing over the past couple of weeks. Its pretty good that they’re at a plus-1 in the last five games, including not drawing a negative in any of them. Tri’s name is starting to pop up in some trade rumors, now that the deadline is only a week away. I do have to ask management why you would want to break up one of your more solid pairings? And “for thrills and giggles” is not an acceptable answer.

- Last night’s newscast showed Soupy vehemently denying that he had a deal in place with the Sabres. I’m really starting to feel bad for Soupy. He was close to tears denying this latest rumor. Some of you might be thinking that he made his own bed by taking negotiations public, but this is just getting uncomfortable for everyone. Its starting to affect his on-ice performance, and it can’t be good for the guy mentally to constantly be thinking that every time he comes to the rink in the next week might be his last time as a Sabre.

- Last night I listened to Goose’s interview with Schopp and the Bulldog on the WGR website. The station was nice enough to archive the entire interview, which was a good 40 minutes in length (the perfect thing to listen to while reading Project Runway recaps, IMO). The length of the interview allowed for some really good topics to be discussed, including how Goose came to the station that day. Schopp and Bulldog made fun of him for taking the longest route known to mankind, especially in the afternoon. (He took the 198 to the 33 to the 90 to the 290, in case you were wondering. And I do agree that he took a really, really, long circuitous route.) They offered to give him directions to use things like side streets, so that going from Buffalo to Amherst wouldn’t be such an ordeal.

Goose also talked about what makes him fight. He only fights to defend teammates or change the momentum in the game. He’s not going to fight just for thrills and giggles, and a good part of being a professional player is knowing when to walk away from a fight, knowing that it might shift momentum to the other team.

Schopp and the Bulldog also brought up this cnnsi.com column, which included the Goose as one of the writer’s choices for a spot on the 2010 Olympic team. The writer would have him playing on a fourth line with Mike Greer. When told about the article, and his placement with Greer, Goose sounded like a kid in a candy store. He was also excited about the other names on the list, including Miller. However, Goose also mentioned that he was shocked that Pommerdoodle was not on the list. Apparently, the Doodle has dual citizenship with the US and Canada. (I’m putting that on my list as my “I learned something new today.”)

Speaking of the Goose and the Pommerdoodle, we already know that they’re roomies on the road (along with Hecht / Crunchy and Mair / Patches). However, there’s been a disruption in Roomie-land, as Pommerdoodle has now won control of the remote in the hotel room. A bet was made on the Seahawks / Packers football game. Winner got remote. Goose was for the Seahawks, and with a 14-point lead, he was pretty confident, even engaging in a little trash talking. However, he soon lost the bet, as the Pack came back to win. Goose has let it be known that he is not happy with this outcome, and Pommers has let him know he doesn’t care. Ha.

Goose also talked about what its like to play with the flu / strep (flep? frep?), which he had a couple of weeks ago. The illness talk lead into a discussion about players losing weight during games. I didn’t know that players could lose as much as 6-8 pounds during a game, and that they were weighed before and after games. (I have a love / hate relationship with my scale, so I can’t imagine stepping on it twice a day.) It also lead to a pretty hilarious exchange about what its like for Miller, who doesn’t have 6-8 pounds to lose on a good day.

- I also caught a little bit of Time Warner’s Power Play show this weekend. Pat Kaleta was the guest star. He didn’t have a lot of good detail to share about the team, considering he’s still a newbie. A lot of what he shared was about the guys in Rochester. However, this show is not doing much to rid me of the perception that Danny Paille needs adult supervision. Kaleta named him as the person most likely to forget to put on their skates before going on the ice. This is in addition to Staffy naming him most likely to eat something that fell on the floor and most likely to lock himself out of the house / hotel.

- And there’s a game tonight. Whoo-hoo! And Project Runway Reunion show! And the Mythbusters McGuyver episode. Whoo-hoo! My DVR’s going to be busy tonight.

h1

Pwned!

February 19, 2008

I saw the short version of this clip on Sportscenter over the weekend.

That tops any practical joke I’ve heard about from an athlete before, just because of the breadth of people that were involved: the player’s agent, his manager, his teammates. Its particularly cruel, but absolutely brilliant.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.